19 January 2014

South Sudan: UN Condemns S. Sudan Army Attempts to Forcefully Enter Compound

Photo: UN
The bodies of two UN peacekeepers killed in action (file photo).

New York — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has condemned an attempt by the South Sudanese army (SPLA) to force their way into a UN compound in Jonglei capital Bor, currently providing protection to some 9,000 civilians in the area.

The SPLA retook the town which is located at 200 kilometres north of Juba from rebel troops loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar on Saturday morning after fierce fighting involving the Ugandan military.

In a statement released on behalf of the secretary-general on Sunday and extended to Sudan Tribune, Ban said he is particularly disturbed over threats made to UN staff after they refused to allow armed soldiers to enter the site after they tried to accompany civilians inside.

"The secretary-general condemns the threats made against UN personnel and demands that all parties to the conflict respect the sanctity of UNMISS protection sites", the statement said.

Ban said the latest incident was one of a "growing number of violations" of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed with the South Sudanese government on the rights and privileges of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to implement its mandate for the protection of civilians.

Ban said he was also concerned that the situation on the ground was becoming increasingly dangerous for UN staff working in South Sudan.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, brutally abused and left homeless in just over a month of conflict in South Sudan.

The secretary-general has urged warring parties to end the "devastating" conflict, in which "thousands of civilians have been killed, brutally abused and left homeless".

He also called on military leaders do more to ensure that fighters under their command protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

In a separate incident last Wednesday, a civilian seeking shelter at a UNMISS base in Upper Nile state capital Malakal was killed by stray bullets after gunfire entered the site.

Dozens of civilians and a UN military officer sustained gunshot wounds in the incident which occurred amid heavy fighting between government forces and the SPLA for control of the strategic town.

Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, on 15 December after clashes between rival members of the presidential guards, spreading to other parts of the country soon after.

In an earlier statement, Ban also condemned the use of humanitarian vehicles and the theft of relief supplies food by both government and anti-government forces.

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